Westwood House

Dominion Article:

Westwood Country House

Short Stays article for Travel section - Dominion Post
By Nick Barnett

What: Westwood Country House
Where: 9 Westwood Avenue, Greytown, tel: 06 304 8510, website: www.westwood.greytown.co.nz
Basics: Stylish acccommodation in an award-winning home;

Reviewed by: Nick Barnett

In the fragrant entrance foyer of Westwood Country House, owner Jill Kemp greeted my partner and me warmly. We had stayed there once before, and she takes pride in her guests’ readiness to return. “It’s a full house tonight,” she told us.

“Full house” meant us plus two other couples escaping Wellington for the tourist-friendly spaciousness of Wairarapa. As well, a trio of stylish young women accompanied by their equally elegant mother were staying in Jill’s renovated 1950s house next door, Cherry Cottage
[no longer available]. Their reason for being there together? Mum’s birthday. A night or two at a beautiful country house and dinner at an acclaimed restaurant, only a stroll away in Greytown village, seems a wonderful way of marking someone’s special day.

Westwood is a light-filled, single-storey house set back from West St, a block from Greytown’s shops and restaurants on State Highway 2. Jill and Peter Kemp took over what had been a berry farm and had the house built during the 1990s to a design by local architect Max Edridge that recalled the interior layout of the Kemps’ much-loved previous home at Eastbourne. The new house won third place in the top-value category of 1999’s House of the Year awards.

Natural materials, gentle neutral colours and an abundance of light create a restfulness that envelops the road-tired traveller. This was the environment the Kemps created for themselves. Widowed in 2001, Jill has continued the B&B business the couple had started and is now in her eighth season as host.

On this visit, Jill puts us in one of the rooms facing west, looking out past a stream and across rows of low trees toward the blue Tararuas. As we take in the view, Jill’s flock of sheep chew back at us.

And further afield? Greytown’s boutiques, antique shops and restaurants are a few minutes’ walk away. Within a manageable drive are Wairarapa’s coastal sights, outdoor adventures, wineries and quirky attractions. This time we tackled the drive and steep stair-climb to Cape Palliser lighthouse, and watched the seals swim, scratch and sunbathe among rocks at the North Island’s southernmost point.

Westwood seems to have a time-stretching effect. When our visit was over, it was remarkable how much time seemed to have passed, how much was packed in, how far we seemed to have gone. The “short stay” seemed not so short – which is the whole idea.

· Westwood Country House hosted Nick Barnett

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